The Children and the Ants
In the corner of the school yard, some children were playing with ants. Some of the children were following the ants that left the anthill, stepping on them as they went out in search of food. A couple of the children saved stray ants by picking them up and playing with them. When the frightened ants bit them, however, the children squished the offenders and went off to save some more ants. The majority of the boys found great pleasure in stomping on the anthills and watching the ants scatter as their homes were destroyed. They would rebuild the hill overnight and the boys would have new targets for their capricious enthusiasm. There was one little boy set apart from the other children. He saw the anthills being destroyed by the other boys and had compassion on the ants. He tried to save as many of them as he could, but the disoriented ants hurried away from his grasp as fast as their tiny legs would carry them. The ants he did save were carried across the school yard to a corner of safety. Along the way they fought to get free from his hold, scurrying across his skin, biting him repeatedly. When he released them, hands stinging with pain, the ants began their trek back across the yard to help rebuild the hill.
The children returned home as the day drew to a close, and recounted their experiences to mostly disinterested parents. Some of the children didn't even mention the ants at recess, because they'd already forgotten about them. A few of the children complained about the ant bites they'd received and sought sympathy. Two of the boys asked their fathers for magnifying glasses. One claimed to want to get a better look at the ants, while the other asked how to use the glass to set the ants on fire. And one little boy asked his father for an ant farm, because the ants that had bitten him, that had been so eager to get away from him and back to the destruction that awaited them, desperately needed a new home.
Back in the school yard, the children continued to torment the ants, intentionally or under the guise of rescue. The girls still squished the ants that bit them, and two of the boys were armed with new magnifying glasses. The restructured anthills were still being trampled, and the ants were still scattering in the wake of destruction. Each day, though, one container of ants was saved from the torment of all they'd ever known and taken to live in a new ant farm, far from the reach of stomping feet. Though the boy desired to save all of the ants, they did not come freely to him. They bit him when he reached out, yet he suffered to rescue them, because his compassion for them was so strong. Each day he sought out more ants, never tiring in his work, even when it hurt, even when he was tired, even when the other children made fun of him.
How like ants we are in the hand of God! We take the abuse Satan hurls at us and cling to this anthill of a home, returning to it each time Christ rescues us from its shambles. We think we can rebuild it, when we don't even realize that it is no longer our home! When Christ removes us from the sin that entangles us, we fight against him, biting him, inflicting pain on him with our rejection. Yet he loves us and has compassion on us still, and pleads our case before the Father, seeking us out and saving us. And we, the little ants we are, puff out our chests and make demands on the one who saves us! We demand that he rebuild our broken anthills. We demand that he leave us to what we know. When he doesn't give in to our demands, we lash out and bite him. In his love, he holds us still, and carries us to safety, acting not out of what would cause him the least pain, but what would be in our best interests.